By Jake Fogarty, founder of It's All About Watches:
The Canford is rugged, yet refined; it is subtle, but makes a statement. All of Elliot Brown's watches have these characteristics. The Canford is their simpler and least expensive watch. With a simple three-hand display and internal bezel, this watch represents everything Elliot Brown is about. "Good enough to wear with your best shirt, tough enough to do whatever you do on weekends." - Alex Brown (taken from this interview (1:58). Inside is an ISASWISS 331/103 (tech specs.).
Case and Crowns
The case on the Canford is, when it comes down to it, one of the nicest ones I have seen. Crafted out of CNC machined steel it is beautifully finished and feels as solid as it looks. The dimensions are: 44mm in diameter and 54mm lug to lug. Inside of the outer case is an inner case, so it is basically a case inside a case. Inside of the inner case is the movement. It is not there, however, to protect from magnetism, but rather to absorb shock. Held in place by elastomers, even when the watch is subjected to extreme shocks, the movement will avoid being damaged. The crowns are knurled and are extremely easy to grip and manipulate. The watch is water resistant to 200m, however, neither of the crowns screw down. They both have a unique triple sealing system that works in any position. So even if you leave the crown open, or it opens in the water, your watch will still be watertight. Neat! The watch is topped off with AR-coated, hardened mineral crystal.
The time-setting crown is located at 4 o'clock. It clicks firmly from place to place, making selecting different "settings", if you will, easy. The action while setting the time is pleasingly robust for a quartz movement and the crown can only advance approximately 1/12 of a rotation before engaging.
The internal bezel control is located at 2 o'clock and is oh so fun to turn. The action is smooth as can be, with no play. It turns fast enough so it is not a pain to set, yet slow enough to select a position with ease. There is absolutely no feeling of gears meshing and the action is comparable to watches 10x it's price.
The caseback of the Canford prominently displays the Elliot Brown logo. It is well-machined with no sharp edges to stick into your wrist. In fact, there are no sharp edges to be found anywhere on the case. The outer edge is etched with the regular technical information. Rather than being a screw-down, the caseback is held in place by six bolts, which provide consistent sealing and better compression for the elastomers.
Dial and Hands
The dial on the Canford 202-005 is white and free of any decoration. The hands and printed markers provide stark contrast against the dial, allowing easy and quick reading of the time. The bezel is the same black as the markers. There is a date display located between the 4 and 5 position. While readable, the date is somewhat small, but it is plenty big enough to read. The date is always perfectly aligned in the window.
The lume on the dial is confined to behind the markers (with the exception of 12 o'clock). Other lume found under the crystal is located inside the triangle on the inner rotating bezel and the hands. It is rather bright and lasts quite a long time. Unfortunately, the picture did not capture the triangle glowing, but I can assure you that it is just as bright as the rest of the lume on the watch.
Strap and Clasp
The strap and clasp are extremely well-done. The black leather strap has a beautiful feel and texture and is extremely soft. It's just beautiful leather. The white stitching provides significant contrast and compliments the dial very well.
The clasp is simple, yet elegant. Fully made from stainless steel it is simple to resize and snaps closed every time. Rather than using cheap stamped metal, Elliot Brown chose to create a solid clasp, a touch which should be expected on a watch at this price. I have, however, never seen a clasp with the same attention to detail as this one. Take for example, the bend in the pieces while it is closed. Rather than having a single, uniform curve, the metal has a sharper curve (around near the middle, see picture above) to fit the wearer's wrist better.
Here's something to make the watch stand out. It is uncommon for one to find lume somewhere other than the dial or bezel, but Elliot Brown decided that they would fill the logo on the clasp with lume. It's a nice touch that might sway someone one way or another if they are making a decision on purchasing.
The watch comes in a canvas box, complete with the Elliot Brown logo. Opening the box reveals a number of improvements over more normal packaging.
These improvements are not all based on appearance. For example, The pillow fits in the cutout perfectly, better than any other packaging I have seen. This keeps the watch secured during transit. The pillow is branded on both sides.
Next to the watch is a screwdriver for sizing bracelets or changing straps. The quality is very nice and it works very well for resizing and/or strap changing.
On the Wrist
People care about comfort and that is exactly where Elliot Brown delivers. The watch sits very nicely on my wrist and hugs it well. For reference my wrist is 6.75". It looks big in some of the pictures, but be assured that it was completely manageable and can be blamed on the angle from which I took the picture. Even if you have a wrist smaller than mine I wouldn't be turned off because of the size.
Final Score: 28/30
I invite you to disagree with me, but I think that Elliot Brown may have made the best dive/pilot watch available on the market right now in this price range (£325 or ~$525 USD). Both the case and clasp are well-finished, the dial is brightly-lit with lume, the internal bezel's motion is superb and it is hard to accidentally knock the crown that controls it, not to mention that they have developed a system that allows a watch to be water resistant to 200m while still retaining the convenience of a push/pull crown. The watch can be purchased from the Elliot Brown site here. There is, however, one area which could be improved.
1) While the clasp shows lots of attention to detail, some of the edges are sharp. It's nothing terrible and it isn't noticeable on the wrist, but if you are looking for it, it is certainly there.
That's it. I know the folks at Elliot Brown painstakingly scrutinized their watches before release, a strategy that clearly works, but this appears to be one aspect that could be improved (at least in my opinion).
The Canford uses four dial feet instead of two to help prevent it from breaking loose when the watch is introduced to high-shock situations. Here's what that looks like.
Please note that all scores are given relative to the price of the watch.
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